The Business Of Laser Scanning: Higher Education? Save Your Money!!

A 254Kb PDF of this article as it appeared in the magazine complete with images is available by clicking HERE

As the largest laser scanning service provider and 3d modeling staff in America, we’re brought into universities throughout the nation to work with engineering, architectural, and construction management students. We provide several different courses in VDC/BIM, 3d modeling, and scanning. We’re typically asked to provide a basic education and real world examples about the ever emerging technology of using LiDAR for measurement to create digital documentation.

Many of these universities are exceptionally well known not only within the national landscape, but for the specific areas of emphasis in education they’re providing. Unfortunately, almost universally, they’re falling short on their mission to provide state-of-the-industry education in our market. Why? How is it that you can get your architectural degree, spend $40k per year for four years, and not get the best training possible?

The universities can’t quickly adapt to change and are too institutionalized. They struggle to really understand anything cutting edge that they are not developing in-house themselves. And the technology behind laser scanning; modeling; VDC/BIM is evolving on an annual basis or faster.
The professors who are teaching the leaders/innovators of tomorrow don’t know what they don’t know. So how do we expect them to teach it?
Students believe that since they’re attending XYZ University, and getting their degree from the best ranked school in this chosen field… they must be getting the best training.
The communication between the colleges at the same university is highly competitive and we’ve found that cross collaboration rarely occurs. Each college operates in a silo and is competing for financial resources–ultimately in the form of students. The cross pollination–even though our technology is beneficial to many–just doesn’t exist.
In the rare case that a university has a good program, it’s too much about R&D for future technology, and not focused on the practical application that’s needed today.

So, how do we improve?
Outsource as much as possible from actual practitioners of the technology. This could mean an architectural firm, construction company, or an owner with advanced asset management programs in place.
Encourage students to seek practical knowledge via internships, research projects, etc. Move the classroom to the real-world as much as possible.
Have professors join associations and/or attend conferences to develop fresh curriculum. Make it easy for our educators to get additional knowledge…and perhaps incent them to do so(?).
Encourage service providers throughout the nation to offer up our knowledge and provide training. Once the students see what’s available, they’ll drive universities to develop greater depth in their programs.
If you’re truly serious about this industry–you may want to consider a less expensive alternative to a major university and attend trade-tech schools that often times offer a much more hands-on experience at a much better value.

What I find frustrating is that we’re utilizing technology today, that will become the foundation for augmented reality tomorrow, and virtual reality will rule our entire world in the future. Let’s not bitch about it, let’s figure out how to improve the education.

(If there’s any institution reading this that would be interested in learning more about the programs we offer please contact me directly at

I’ve been blogging for the last 5 years and would encourage your thoughts, comments, and hopefully ideas for the next article.

Ken Smerz is the President of Eco3d ( Comments are encouraged at or on Twitter @KenSmerz.

A 254Kb PDF of this article as it appeared in the magazine complete with images is available by clicking HERE